Brooklyn newcomer Brooklyn Label serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch in the spaciously remodeled ground floor of the historic Astral Apartments building in Greenpoint. Maintaining original ceilings and floors (where possible), bright sunlight pours in in windows on the South and West sides illuminating bright orange walls and a steadily crowded room. Open six days a week (except Mondays), Brooklyn Label's hearty menu offers generously sized servings of creative variations on all-American favorites with breakfast sandwiches on weekdays (like a grilled challah roll with spinach, eggs, and pepper bacon and bacon, eggs, and cheese on homemade biscuits), and vegetarian entrees, homemade soups and salads, and sandwiches at lunch.
Gourmet groceries, coffees, and pastries from Balthazar bakery are available to purchase a la carte, or to munch on during your wait for a table (ours was 20 minutes on a recent brunch visit). We picked up coffees at the self-service station, a strong brew you can pay for at the counter, and studied the brunch menu while waiting for our table. The brunch menu is an abbreviated version of the breakfast and lunch menus -- several egg options (omelettes, a daily quiche, and steak and eggs) pack a protein punch while the tofu and potatoes (tossed with curry spices, fried potatoes, tomato, broccoli, and topped with cheese) stand as the best vegetarian (or vegan) option. Those with a sweet tooth might lean towards the cast-iron waffle or challah french toast, though anyone hankering for pancakes will find they are suspiciously missing from the menu.
Gothamist opted for lighter fare, testing out Brooklyn Label's homemade steel cut oatmeal topped with pecans, dried cranberries, raisins, soy milk and brown sugar which was creamy and indulgent--great for a cold day. We ordered a side of thick cut slab bacon on the side; sausage patties, hash browns, a basket of Balthaazar pastries, and fresh fruit are also available. Additionally, we requested a side of toast (not on the menu) and our server happily obliged, bringing tasty multigrain toast with memorable mini-pots of homemade jam: apple-pear and peach marmalade that we later took home and enjoyed the next morning.
Our dining companion opted for the challah french toast, two massive 2 1/2" thick slices of challah bread sprinkled with casmian cinnamon, a hearty dollop of cranberry pecan butter, and real maple syrup. Just as much dessert as breakfast, the giant slices were sweet and satisfying, if not slightly too generous in size, the centers arriving "raw." On another sweet note, surrounding tables oohed and ahhed at spicy Mayan hot chocolate, hefty mugs topped with whipped cream and marshmallows for $3.50. A selection of hot house beverages also offers cardamom honey cappuccino, cinnamon caramel cappuccino, and traditional lattes and espressos -- listed on a giant chalkboard behind the service counter.
With prices uniformly under $10 and tasty-if-not-refined plates, Brooklyn Label is a welcome addition to Greenpoint's brunch selection. Even with slight mishaps -- a spilled coffee, at times absent-minded service, and reports from friends of waitresses failing to inform when entrees had run out -- Gothamist thinks Brooklyn Label will soon be a neighborhood favorite. We’re excited to return to check out the hearty sandwiches on their lunch menu, and word on the street is that dinner will arrive soon.
Brooklyn Label is located at 180 Franklin Street (at Java) and open Tuesday - Sunday, 7:00 -10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (718) 389-2806.